Friday, December 7, 2012

DIY weekend! Homemade holiday postcards

What is more delightful than receiving holiday cards in the mail? Add a personal touch to your season’s greetings and create artistic, one-of-a-kind cards with your children. Here's one you can make at home. All materials are easily available at your local art or hobby stores.
My go to supply shops in New York City are Blick Art Materials and Michael’s. Have fun!

Whimsical Watercolor Postcards

What you’ll need:

Watercolor set
Water cup
Fine point black ink pen

  • Step #1: Brainstorm ideas on the theme of “Winter”. Using pencil, draw your imagery.
  • Step # 2: Once the image is complete, use a fine point black pen, such as a Sharpie, to re-draw the lines. Erase any excess pencil marks.

  • Step # 3: Begin painting with watercolor. Allow to dry.

  • Step # 4: Write your personal holiday greeting.
  • Step # 5: Head thee to the post office for some holiday themed stamps, place the postcard in the mailbox, and smile because someone is going to be so happy to receive it!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday gifts to engage all 5 senses!

The holiday season has started and my favorite thing to do while sipping on a to-go cup of peppermint cocoa (or caramel apple cider) is walking around New York City and shopping for gifts for all the little ones in my life. I just had to share some of my “must-haves” to promote creativity and imagination! All gifts appropriate for ages 3 and up.

TOUCH: For Here or To Go Art Set from Land of Nod, $14.95
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 I love tell my students about how when I was a kid my art supplies ended up all over the room when working on a project, although not much as changed! This set from Land of Nod has perfect little compartments for each material so clean up is a snap!

HEAR: Triangle from Land of Nod, $6.95

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Music and Art in one! Talk about shapes and make some tunes at the same time.

SIGHT: Dragons Dragons by Eric Carle, $10.00
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My 3- year old nephew, Simon, is obsessed with dragons lately. He even roars like one on a frequent basis. I just had to get him this book about fantastic creatures! It is a great conversation starter for a drawing activity – make up your own monster! Roar, indeed.

SMELL & TASTE:  Cookie baking set by Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's, $19.99

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Cook up some delicious treats, shape cookie dough, and watch them transform into sweet smelling desserts! Don’t forget to share!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fantastic fall-themed children’s books

a walk down 10th st. NYC
I just renewed my library card! Yes, that’s right:  A shiny, plastic New York Public Library Card. My other one somehow got lost and it was due time to replace it. While I spend most of my days with kids, we are mostly in a classroom. It was refreshing to take some time and browse my local library, chat with the Children’s librarian, and how exciting to take out books! What better way to complement last week’s art project than with books all about fall?

Here are my 3 picks that highlight the colors and spirit of the season: (If you’d rather add these to your permanent collection, all of them have links to purchase through various retailers)
image via / courtesy of:
  1. The Magic Pumpkin by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault: With verses that rhyme, this is a Halloween treat!
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2. Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell: A very sweet book about a little girl going to pick a pumpkin for her doorstep and apples to eat! A short read, appropriate for ages pre-K – 1st grade.
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf Big Book
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  1. Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert: A wonderful book with collage illustrations. It is told in the voice of a child who tells the story about a tree they planted a long time ago.
*Don’t forget! This weekend, 10/27 I’ll be reading stories and running a FREE drawing workshop at Gourmet Guild in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

**If you are in the neighborhood on Halloween, we’ll be creating spook-tacular monster drawings! Trick or Treat! More information under the events page.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ode to Autumn: Painted Paper Collage project

I sincerely love this time of year: cozy sweaters, apple cider, and pumpkin picking. Of course, my favorite part of autumn is how the leaves change colors! Here is a project that you can do at home. It is an ode to the beauty of trees. It can be completed in one day with small breaks in between or can be an ongoing project that you re-visit on different days.

Step 1: Work with your child to observe the gorgeous fall colors outside. Perhaps collect a few leaves. Ask them what types of colors they notice.

Step 2: Use tempera paint on 12” x 18” paper and various brushes to create and mix colors and patterns they see in the leaves. Cover the entire paper. For this demo I used red, yellow, and peach. If you have more colors, feel free to use them! Sometimes I like using a limited palette.
Step 3: Allow paper to dry. This will now be your collage leaf paper!

Step 4: If you have actual leaves look at the various shapes. Otherwise, I love the photos in the book “A Tree for all Seasons” by Robin Bernard. Carefully cut or rip lots of shapes! This book can help you with Step 5 too!
Step 5: On a separate piece of paper paint your autumn tree branches and trunk. Referencing to a photograph or looking out the window is definitely helpful.

Step 6: Once your tree painting is dry, it is time to glue down all of your handmade leaves.

Step 7: You can talk about overlapping different leaves and how leaves fall to the ground. Don’t forget to have fun! Thanks to my kid helpers ages 5 and 9!

**Ready for more awesome autumn themed art projects? Visit me for a Pumpkin Art Party at Gourmet Guild in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Saturday, October 27, 2012 from 12pm-2pm. I’ll be reading “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and hosting a free drawing and watercolor workshop inspired by locally grown pumpkins and gourds! Many thanks to Macaroni Kid downtown for listing this. Register by calling (718) 388-7726.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

see the world in black, white, and grey at the gugg!

Pablo Picasso's 'Head of a Horse, Sketch for Guernica,' from 1937. 'Color weakens,' the artist reportedly once said.
"Head of a Horse" by Pablo Picasso. image via/courtesy of:

So excited to see the Picasso show this weekend. It opened just a few days ago and have been counting down the minutes until I am walking into that stark white rotunda! What fascinates me about this exhibit is the focus on three colors: black, white, & grey.  

One topic you can talk about with your child is the sheer number of pieces (over 100!) that Picasso created with such a limited palette. Another conversation I always like to have with my students is the amount of time it takes to create an artwork.  We're always in a rush, so this is the perfect opportunity to stop, stand still, and observe... more importantly, to wonder about each piece!  I hope you can visit the show before January and perhaps use the DIY scavenger hunt from my last post!

The museum has fantastic programming too. Check out their offerings on Sundays:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DIY art scavenger hunt$VIEWER_IMAGE$
image of plastic magnifying glasses via / courtesy of:

I love to share the story with my students about how my parents dragged (yes, even to the art ones - dragged) me to museums growing up. Every city, every state, every country – we’d be at the entrance the minute they opened. While it took me years to figure out how it would all manifest and resonate, museums are now one of my favorite places to go and teach in! Looking back at the experiences, one of the main reasons why I found them sort of boring is because we'd just walk in circles. We never talked about any of the work!

Part of my job is to give families tips on how to make their museum trips more of a holistic group experience rather than just wandering around aimlessly. Of course I am an advocate of joining family tours given by a docent or educator, but sometimes we all just want to do our own thing, right?

Here's one way to spice up your next museum visit: Turn it into a scavenger hunt and team effort. Through these activities you are giving your child the opportunity to explore, be inquisitive and you're allowing them to form an opinion.

One last thing: Everyone in the family has to play. Depending how large your group is, make teams - try not to be too competitive :)

What you’ll need:

A pre-made list of things you’ll be on the “hunt” for (see below)
Magnifying glass (plastic)
Ziploc bags (to hold all the pencil, magnifier, and other stuff you collect)
Paper, notebook, or notepad
Mini – clipboard

Here are some ideas for your art hunt! Enjoy!

Find an artwork that…

has more than 5 colors.
has more than 5 shapes.
has weirdest title (I would LOVE this one!)
(*make sure you write the titles down)

Act out (silently!) ….

And pretend you are one of the characters in a painting. Or if there is 3d work, act out the gesture of a sculpture. Document with your camera phone! (**check with the museum staff if you are allowed take photos**) If you can’t take a picture, have someone draw you or your child doing this :)


a picture of your favorite piece
a picture of your least favorite piece
a picture of another museum visitor
a picture of the museum building and architecture


a copy of the museum map
your ticket stub
any pamphlets
(*you can turn these into a scrapbook page)


A story of what you think is happening in an art piece
A letter to the artist asking them questions you have about the piece
A thank you note to the museum once you’re done with your hunt!

P.S. If you're in NYC this weekend, you must go to either the DUMBO arts festival in brooklyn or  the Maker Faire in queens.... or BOTH!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

draw with your....scissors?

Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors: Drawing with Scissors
book image courtesy of/ via

Book alert! If you’re building an art library for your kids, today’s pick is “Drawing with Scissors” by Jane O’Connor. It is an endearing book about Henri Matisse and his artist journey. Did you know that he started out working at a law firm but ended up drawing on all of the important legal documents? When he became ill and spent a lot of time in bed and a wheelchair he began cutting lots and lots of paper shapes – the beginnings of collages you see in major museums today.  
Want to create collages at home but don’t want little bits of paper all over the place?  (I call them baby scraps!) Here is how I set-up in my classroom with a variety of materials. Everything is visible and just calling to be used! When your child is finished working, everything can go back in the tray, along with the scissors and glue stick. Links below to buy everything you see here:

butcher tray with fadeless paper, cellophane sheets, burlap, corrugated cardboard, and metallic paper
**Art teacher tip: A sure fire way to make clean up super fun? Turn organizing the paper & scraps into a game. Challenge your child to classify by paper type or color family!

p.s. I know I promised my “painting picks” last time, so here’s one of them.  Loads of color, little mess. tempera cakes (get the ones in the palette). Just don’t eat them! 

shopping list:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fab Five

Au Revoir Summer 2012…TODAY is the first day of school for thousands of children in New York City! My art studio is ready, pencils sharpened, blank paper stacked and oodles of art supplies in their perfectly labeled cups.

To keep the art party going at home, here are my Fab Five Art Supplies that are a fun addition to any at-home studio:

  1. Crayola Color Sticks: Colored pencils that don’t roll off tabletops and never need sharpening!
Color Sticks, Set of 12
Crayola Color Sticks! Image courtesy of / via
2.  Crayola Air Dry Clay:  If you don't have access to a kiln to bake clay, here's the next best thing. Its consistency and qualities, especially with a sprinkle of water will make you feel like you just dug it out of the earth yourself! Just note that whatever you create will dry solid after 24 hours.
2½ lb Bucket
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2.Elmer's X-treme Glue Stick: This glue stick is extremely awesome! After testing about 10 different brands of gluesticks (glam life over here!) I am all about these. While creating collage projects, it keeps fabrics, cardboard and all types of textures on surfaces. (*don't worry, I never encourage my students to glue on furniture or walls!)

X-TREME School Glue Stick
image via / courtesy of:

 4. Twisteez : Oh, so fun! Sculptors and aspring jewelry makers will obsess over these easy to manipulate brightly colored wire strands! Mix them up with some of the air dry clay and the sky is the limit.
(P.S. - Wouldn't this be a cool bracelet?)
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5. Watercolor Postcards: Such a perfect size for the little ones. While I believe a child should paint on all types of crazy sizes of paper (massive mural size even!) - to keep things controlled at home, these are a fun way to encourage the old-fashioned art of letter writing while creating an original painting on the other side. Grab a pencil, a cup of water, and watercolor brush (my picks for these next week) and get started!
Watercolor Postcard Pad, 15 Sheet Pad
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Hope everyone is having a great first week back!

P.S. If you haven't noticed, I have a preferred vendor!
Check it out!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What you can learn from a children's book: My favorite way to start the school year!

Can you believe it?  It's back to school time! There is something exciting about new school supplies, and while my days as a student are long gone, as an art teacher my favorite items to prepare for the year are a fresh notebook to jot down project ideas and of course, some sort of colored ink pen to write with.

book cover image courtesy of / via 
I am going to set up my classroom very soon and one of the best tasks is unpacking my old favorite books for the classroom library while slowly adding new stories to the mix. I start the year off by reading Mem Fox's "The Straight Line Wonder" - a sure fire hit! Without telling the entire story, here are my favorite ideas that it encourages:

1. It's OK to be different and break away from the crowd sometimes (most artists do!)
2. At some point you'll jump, twirl, spin and wiggle through life and everything will be just fine
3. In the end, you'll always know who your true friends are

What makes the story extra special is that the book was given to me by a mentor who taught me the magic of always staying as stay playful and excited as children when they first pick up a crayon or paintbrush.

Ready to make some art with the kids? Then stop by the Studio Museum of Harlem this Sunday, August 26 for a really fun printmaking activity I'll be helping to facilitate! Go here for more details and to RSVP

Thursday, July 26, 2012

eat your veggies & draw them too!

I'll be running this art workshop at Gourmet Guild in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Do your food shopping for the week while your kids make fun, colorful art!

**Free art workshop for children ages 4-11 at Gourmet Guild, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Saturday, August 4, 2012. 

11o Broadway between Bedford Ave. and Berry St. , Brooklyn
Subway: L to Bedford Ave. 

Free on a rotating first-come, first-served basis 

For more information please visit: 
contact: Steven Clark, Owner   718.388.7726

Monday, July 9, 2012

Look up in the SKY for this weekend's picks

Look up in the sky it's a bird it's a....SKYSCRAPER! Saturday, 7/14

Build @ the Skyscraper Museum: Children will learn about creating art using recycled materials. A favorite!


Art SuperSTARS rally here on Sunday, 7/15
STAR festival at Japan Society: Learn traditional Japanese folklore and make paper art.
When? SUNDAY, July 15, 2pm. Buy tickets in advance.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stay cool- be an art connoisseur this weekend!

This weekend is full of fun family art events. Here are my picks for Saturday and Sunday:

Wave Hill in Riverdale: Gardens Galore! Don't miss this fun Ink painting workshop on July 7

Queens Museum of Art MetLife Family Sundays: Celebrate Summer Caribbean Carnival Style on July 8

- - - - -

Ongoing summer picks:

Material Lab at MoMA: I have spent hours of my life hanging out here (guess I'm just a big kid at heart!)

Rubin Museum of Art Family Labs: Himalayan Art in a serene and beautiful space all within bustling Chelsea

P.S. **I'll be running a Family Art Workshop at Studio Museum of Harlem on August 26. Details soon!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Art of Outsourcing

I was invited by the amazing business & life  coach Patty Lennon of Mom Gets A Life to share my thoughts on allowing parents the time to nurture themselves while outsourcing their child's enrichment.